Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Code of the Hills

A Mick Hardin Novel

by Chris Offutt

In this blistering return to Chris Offutt’s acclaimed crime series, Mick Hardin is tested like never before as familial allegiances and old wounds collide, threatening to destroy everything he loves

  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 288
  • Publication Date June 13, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6191-8
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $27.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Publication Date June 13, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6192-5
  • US List Price $27.00

Master storyteller and award-winning author Chris Offutt’s latest book, Code of the Hills, is a dark, witty, and propulsive thriller of murder and secrets in a town where little is as it seems.

Mick Hardin is back in the hills of Kentucky. He’d planned to touch down briefly before heading to France, marking the end to his twenty-year Army career. In Rocksalt, his sister Linda the sheriff is investigating the murder of Pete Lowe, a sought-after mechanic at the local racetrack. After another body is found, Linda and her deputy Johnny Boy Tolliver wonder if the two murders are related. Linda steps into harm’s way just as a third body turns up and Mick ends up being deputized again, uncovering evidence of illegal cockfighting, and trying to connect all the crimes.

An explosive return to the mayhem of the Kentucky hills, Code of the Hills is a harrowing novel of family—of what we’re willing to do to protect and avenge the ones we love.

Tags Literary

Praise for Code of the Hills:

“Excellent Kentucky noir—Offutt’s third Mick Hardin novel is the best yet . . . Offutt once again beautifully captures both the roughness and the generosity of the inhabitants of Rocksalt, both the menace and the beauty of the eastern Kentucky landscape. The dialogue is a highlight, consistently sharp, quick, and funny; in that, Offutt is rapidly becoming a rural-noir rival to greats like Elmore Leonard . . . Another love letter to Appalachia with a high body count. Another bloody delight.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“The writing in the follow-up to Shifty’s Boys is as beautifully descriptive of the scenes in Detroit as in the Kentucky hills. Offutt’s Mick Hardin novels are powerful books that feature characters with questionable ethics.”—Lesa Holstine, Library Journal (starred review)

Praise for Shifty’s Boys:

Deadly Pleasures Pick for Best of Southern Noir 2022

“The writing is top-notch, shot through with menace and melancholy.”—Sarah Weinman, New York Times Book Review

“Righteous Kentucky noir with top notes of Daniel Woodrell and SA Cosby. I gulped it down, relishing the burn.”—Ian Rankin

“Rich in atmospherics and a master-class in the craft of crime fiction… Offutt has created a wildly compelling private eye series full of memorable characters, drawn with an observant eye and passion for local terrain.”—Dwyer Murphy, CrimeReads

“Another excellent Mick Hardin thriller set in rural eastern Kentucky… Come for the thriller, by all means; it delivers nicely. But stay for, and linger in, the marvelous incidentals and atmospherics: arguments about mall names; lore about snakes and birds and mushrooms; descriptions of a local shade-tree tinkerer’s Slinky-like version of a perpetual motion machine. Terrific characters; taut suspense. Another winner from Offutt.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“This is country noir at its most powerful, combining cracking action with crystalline portraits of rough-hewn but savvy characters tragically forced to become ‘retribution killers’ to stop yet another cycle of violence.”—Bill Ott, Booklist, starred review

“Readers will appreciate the novel’s respectful portrayal of the contemporary South as they ride along with Mick on his fair-minded, almost spiritual quest to root out the truth. Fans of contemporary small-town mysteries will look forward to Offutt’s next.”—Publishers Weekly

“In elegant, economical prose, Shifty’s Boys is an accomplished addition to the ranks of country noir.”—Val McDermid, author of 1989

“With The Killing Hills and now Shifty’s Boys, Chris Offutt has launched a fantastic and compelling new crime novel series, and as a reader you may come to these books for the murders and the mysteries, rendered as they are with great page-turning style and thrilling action, but there’s even more at work here. These books are also about a place and its people, and the result is a vivid portrait infused with insight and wisdom, humanity and affection. I eagerly await the next Mick Hardin!”—Jonathan Ames, author of A Man Named Doll

Shifty’s Boys is a tale of vengeance that asks difficult questions about the nature and value of honor, every line delivered with the relentless efficiency of a wolf stripping meat from a bone. In Mick Hardin, Chris Offutt has created a complex, brooding hero, a man whose moral code was hewn from Kentucky hill-country rock. As his world turns darker and dirtier by the minute, once the brutal work is done, we are left with only a few words. More Mick, please.”—Christopher J. Yates, author of Grist Mill Road

“How can it be that after just two of Chris Offutt’s Mick Hardin novels I love a bunch of the characters like they were my own family? I’m not even from Kentucky. And how can it be that these books are as thrilling and funny as a great crime show yet still exhibit the scraped, lean vernacular sentences readers of Offutt’s short fiction have come to admire? Here’s hoping Hardin rides for a good long while.”—Jonathan Lethem

“Chris Offutt’s mastery of sense of place is still in full bloom… It’s a contemporary western, and in westerns primal feelings win out and revenge tastes of blood and loneliness.”—James OwenThe Times (UK)

Shifty’s Boys is an economical, richly imagined crime story . . . [A] rare rural noir thriller.”—Deadly Pleasures

“In just two relatively short novels, Chris Offutt has made me a dedicated fan of this series which I will eagerly read as each new episode comes out. Write faster, Chris.”—Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine

“Offutt has written a propulsive literary thriller with an intricate plot that tests Hardin’s mettle throughout the book. His characters are true to the area, and his keen eye for the local setting transports the reader to Appalachia. Let’s hope Offutt’s hills don’t change in his next Mick Hardin novel, so we can revisit Rocksalt, Kentucky, very soon.”—Wayne Catan, Chapter 16

“A riveting thrill ride.”—Deep South Magazine

“Offutt loves his characters enough to give them life. With them, we can grieve or laugh… Offutt’s novel is replete with details that brand the humanity pictured within as real, because you can’t make this stuff up.”—Cathy Downs, Reviewing the Evidence

“Offutt has really hit his stride in this second installment. I could not flip the pages fast enough.”—Vick Mickunas, Book Nook

“Everyman thriller with a slice of rural noir . . . Offutt skillfully [balances] visceral description, tight dialogue and rattling action into a breakneck-paced, utterly enthralling total package.”—Doug Johnstone, Big Issue (UK)

Author Tour Dates



Oxford, MS


In conversation with Michael Farris Smith

Event Info Here 

5:30 PM CT